Sleep is one of the most important factors in attaining a healthy lifestyle. Many of us have forgotten what it feels like to be truly rested. According to WebMD, the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep offers many health benefits. Research has shown that with adequate sleep, people enjoy better health, less pain, a better mood, better weight control and clearer thinking. At times it feels like creating a healthy sleep routine might be out of our control, due to a newborn baby, sick children or work stresses, but you can do little things to make your sleep better.
This week the Be Better Challenge is to make sleep a priority. We challenge you not only to try to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but to create a sleep routine before bed that does not include electronics. This week, don’t check Facebook on your phone or send an email right before bed; that hinders the body’s ability to fall asleep. Instead, if you lower all lights, your body will begin to release melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy. Other options include writing in your journal or reading an old-fashioned, paper and ink book. It is amazing how much our bodies adjust when we slow our minds down and remove the constant stimulation we face throughout the day.
In this week’s challenge, we are aiming to “keep your electronic device out of bed” by setting an electronic curfew. Yes, this is going to be a tough one. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 95 percent of Americans use electronic devices within that timeframe. Why is this important? Well, according research found it the article, “Reading on A Screen before Bed Might be Killing You, the artificial light produced by your electronic devices makes it more difficult to fall asleep because it suppresses melatonin levels. It also affects the quality of your sleep.
More tips to help with healthy sleep:
- Create a bedtime ritual: This helps condition your body and mind to slow down by removing stimulations that cause stress, anxiety or excitement. For example, take a hot bath or read a book.
- Stick to a sleep schedule: Being consistent helps your body’s sleep/wake cycles and helps promote better sleep.
- Create a relaxing bedroom environment.
- Avoid taking late afternoon naps.
- Turn off electronics one hour before bed.
How much sleep is recommended?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, that answer varies based on your age. It ranges from 14 to17 hours when you are a newborn and eight to10 hours when you are a teenager, to seven to eight hours when you are an older adult. Find your recommended amount of sleep using the chart provided by the National Sleep Foundation.
More information on 10 Tips for BETTER Sleep: http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/sleep/basics/10-tips-for-better-sleep.htm.